13 Dec Omi Oh My
Sprawling across 120 acres of open land lies Art Omi, a beautiful outdoor sculpture and architecture park in Ghent, NY. Arriving on a day that was cold and crisp with a crystal blue, sunny sky overhead sporting fluffy cotton clouds, I knew I was in for a remarkable treat.
The property itself draws you in, with a variation of rolling hills, large flat fields, a wetland pond nestled in a tree surround, a creek quietly roaming through forest trails and vast, open expanses. It makes the artwork stand out in even more stark and inviting contrast.
There are pieces to delight, mesmerize or ponder at every turn and I eventually lost count. And the breadth of work on display is staggering both in size and execution.
In addition to the outdoor offerings, there is a small indoor gallery housed in The Benenson Center which is currently exhibiting retrospective mixed media and video works by Howardena Pindell. The center also offers art education through workshops and camps as well as residency programs for international artists, writers, dancers, musicians and architects.
Art Omi is a special place—a real getaway for contemplation and enjoyment of the outdoors in solitude or as a place to convene with others in an appreciation of art and nature.
Open daily and free to the public.
Will Ryman, Pac-Lab, Cast Resin, Steel and Paint, 2017.
This whimsical piece is meant to mimic the classic arcade game Pac-Man with brightly colored low amorphous shaped walls forming a maze-like set up. Viewers can enter and take any path they wish, weaving between the various sections.
DeWitt Godfrey, Picker Sculpture, CorTen Steel, 2004.
Picker Sculpture is named for the Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute at Colgate University where Mr. Godfrey teaches. This piece is the result of an exploratory collaboration between the artist and science and math faculty. The strips of steel are riveted together into spherical forms, then packed and tacked together into confined spaces. The results are sculptures that explore space between things around them.
Beverly Pepper, Paraclete, CorTen Steel, 1973.
Beverly Pepper is internationally recognized as a preeminent sculptor with a prolific career. Her works are large scale and often tend to complement and contrast with their environment. The pointed triangular element of this piece is repeated in the “entrance,” a small opening in which there is room for one viewer to face inward into darkness or outward toward the landscape. The cold, heavy metal provides an anchor to the ground as the apex directs the viewer skyward.
Rob Fischer, Omi Pond House, Steel and Glass, 2016.
For Art Omi’s wetland pond, Mr. Fischer imagined a glass house floating on the surface as a functional residence for a creative individual. Constructed from a melange of scavenged and standard building materials, found objects and silkscreen technique on tempered glass, viewers are welcome to enter and enjoy quiet time, whether on the furnished bed or chair!
The Benenson Center, which houses the interior gallery, education center and cafe.
Bianca Beck, Untitled, Painted Fiberglass and Steel, 2020.
The artist’s first large scale outdoor work, Ms. Beck considered the expansion of the individual in relation to collectivity, creativity and partnership. This piece evokes a single colossal figure, as though the human scale has been psychically amplified by its potential, love, pride and power to connect.
Alex Schweder + Ward Shelley, ReActor, Wood and Concrete, 2016.
This experimental, performative work of “social relationship architecture” is a habitable sculpture which makes visible the intimate relationship between architecture and its inhabitants. A 44-foot by 8-foot structure that rotates 360-degrees atop a 15-foot concrete column, it can also tilt right to left and vice versal in response to its inhabitant’s movements, external forces such as wind or rain and interior conditions.
Debuting in Central Park before its move to Art Omi, this is definitely a situation where you want a compatible roommate!
Brian Tolle, Eureka, Styrofoam, Urethane, Acrylic Paint, 2000.
Brian Tolle’s pieces emphasize a formal and iconographic dialog with history and context, provoking a re-reading by cross-wiring reality and fiction.
My most favorite piece at Art Omi, this sculpture calls to mind the slender, gabled “canal houses” of 18th century New York that were the vestiges of 40 years of Dutch rule. But the delightful surprise is that the sculpture does not recreate the facade of a canal house itself but rather its rippled reflection in the flowing waterway. A wonderful optical illusion and testament to a clever artist’s prowess!